Braised Short Ribs and Creamy Polenta

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short ribs on a white plate sprinkled with carrots and parsley
These non alcoholic braised beef short ribs are so delicious and decadent, even without the wine or vinegar. They're the perfect recipe for a fall family dinner. #fallrecipes #shortribs #migrainediet #glutenfree

These braised short ribs without wine or alcohol are delicious and tender. The oven mainly does the work while your house smells delicious! Pair with a side dish of creamy polenta for full meal. 

Alcohol-Free Braised Short Ribs

Ever do a Google search for “short ribs”? Recipe after recipe has red wine – probably one of the most well known migraine triggers. After several clicks of frustration I set out to create my own delicious, cozy recipe that would make me not think twice about wine.

I said a small prayer while I poured in some apple juice, and I wondered if I was ruining the whole dish. “Luckily short ribs are fairly inexpensive” I assured myself. Of course my husband, with no fear, dug right in and exclaimed “Wow! These are really good! What’s in them?”. I have to admit, these were some of the best short ribs I’ve ever had. They may sound a little too sweet, but I promise they’re the perfect mix of a touch of sweet and a lot of savory.

Short ribs being braised with carrots in a dutch oven

Slow Cooker Short Ribs

If you wanted to do these in the crock pot you could sear them first and put them on high for 4-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours. I’d also add about 2 more cups of broth, just to make sure it’s kept moist. I am not a fan of doing short ribs in the instant pot, mainly because you can’t achieve that fall off the bone, melt in your mouth texture that you can from braising them in the oven. Plus you’re really only adding another hour to your cooking time and I promise the flavor is worth it. I like to use my 6 quart Le Creuset dutch oven for this, but if you’re looking for one that’s a little less expensive, the Lodge brand also performs well.

As for safe broth or stock, this one is tricky to buy. I make my own in the instant pot! If you can find this Pacific Bone stock of if you can tolerate a little bit of onion I like Trader Joe’s Hearty Vegetable Stock (NOT the low sodium).

The polenta is creamy and light, a perfect compliment to the savory short ribs. This would also be wonderful with whipped potatoes, butternut squash, or cauliflower.

Browned short ribs and creamy polenta on a white plate with parsley on top

5 from 1 vote
short ribs on a white plate sprinkled with carrots and parsley
Braised Short Ribs (No Wine!) with Creamy Polenta
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 50 mins

This gluten free recipe is a perfect family meal for fall. The non alcoholic sauce is rich and flavorful, even without wine or vinegar. See options to make this meal whole30.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Braised Beef Short Ribs, Creamy Polenta, Whole30 Short Ribs
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 781.27 kcal
Author: The Dizzy Cook
Non-Alcoholic Short Ribs
  • 3 lbs bone-in beef short ribs You can get your butcher to make these for you. If they're on the small or fatty side, I'd recommend getting more pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large shallots chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup organic apple juice no additives
  • 2 cups stock or broth can be homemade or clean store bought
Creamy Polenta
  • 1 cups milk
  • 2 cups broth or stock
  • 1 cup polenta I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese I like Vermont Creamery, but you could also use a clean cream cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pull short ribs out at least 10 minutes before you intend to start cooking and season them with kosher salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. In a heavy dutch oven, add 1 tbsp of oil and heat on med-high for a minute or two. Sear about 1 minute per side on all sides of your short ribs, until they're nice and brown. You may need to do this in two batches so you don't crowd your pan. If you put too many in at one time, they won't brown nicely.

  3. Remove short ribs from dutch oven and set aside. Pour out any excess oil so only around 1 tbsp remains. Add shallots and carrots and saute for a minute or two, till soft. Then add garlic, brown sugar, and thyme. 

  4. Return the short ribs to the pot and pour in apple juice and stock/broth. Bring everything to a boil and then cover with a sturdy lid or tight foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. These can also be left longer if needed. It's tough to ruin short ribs.

  5. FOR THE POLENTA: 10 minutes before you pull out the short ribs, bring the milk and broth/stock for the polenta to a boil in a medium pan. Slowly whisk in the polenta a little bit at a time and continue whisking as it slowly thickens - about 15-20 minutes. You want it to be a mild simmer while you whisk, not a boil, so you may need to adjust your heat accordingly. Keep warm until ready to serve. If it gets too thick, you can add a little water, broth, or milk to thin out.

  6. Pull the short ribs out of the pot and skim any excess fat off the top of the liquid mixture. Simmer the liquid 5-10 minutes until thickened if it hasn't already thickened up. Then return the short ribs to the pot and coat with sauce.

  7. Stir the mascarpone and butter into the polenta and season with salt and pepper. Serve the short ribs on top of the polenta with a little sauce.

Recipe Notes
  • Pulling the short ribs out a little earlier to take the chill off will help them to sear better. 
  • To make these short ribs Whole30 compliant, simply omit the sugar and honey.
  • Calorie count contains the polenta and short ribs. 
Nutrition Facts
Braised Short Ribs (No Wine!) with Creamy Polenta
Amount Per Serving (12 oz)
Calories 781.27 Calories from Fat 340
% Daily Value*
Fat 37.77g58%
Saturated Fat 16.4g103%
Cholesterol 166.69mg56%
Sodium 1152.43mg50%
Potassium 1189.16mg34%
Carbohydrates 52.67g18%
Fiber 1.81g8%
Sugar 15.99g18%
Protein 54.47g109%
Vitamin A 3568.52IU71%
Vitamin C 3.44mg4%
Calcium 135.87mg14%
Iron 6.55mg36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.


  1. Kim

    5 stars
    I’m making these for the first time and just put them in the oven. They smell & look delicious! Question: I’m assuming they need to be covered in the oven but it doesn’t say to put them in the oven covered or uncovered. I don’t have a dutch oven so I’m using a cast iron skillet covered with foil.
    I also didn’t have any apple juice so I substituted apple cider vinegar, since I’d seen some recipes use wine. I figured that would work well to tenderize the meat. I almost used red wine vinegar but thought I’d stay with the apple theme since I like to stay as close to the original recipe the first time making something.
    I didn’t have shallots so I substituted an equal amount of white onion.
    Thanks so much for creating a recipe without wine. I also have migraines but they have all but disappeared after I discovered my greatest triggers were lack of sleep, irregular meals/not enough protein balance to carb intake, and MSG. I was very sad to find that MSG is an ingredient in the fried chicken breading at Chick-fil-A. I stopped eating there several years ago and my migraines pretty much went totally away. Now I only have one if the lack of sleep/hunger trigger is there. I love the philosophy of the CFA corporation and I contacted them about the MSG. They responded that “MSG was found to be relatively safe in humans in 1978”. I reminded them of the side effects of MSG such as abdominal pain and headaches and asked them to please consider removing this ingredient that adversely affects so many. My son had severe abdominal pain that we could not locate a cause for. We were going to CFA 2-3 times a week after field trips because I considered it to be “healthy fast food”. I stopped taking him there and his abdominal pain went completely away! I have read that the “Food Babe” is working with them to remove MSG from their products. I will be so happy when they do!


    1. Alicia

      Hey Kim – thanks for catching that! These definitely should be covered when cooking, but I hope they still turned out ok for you. Apple cider vinegar may be a bit strong, but let me know how it went. On the particular diet I have recipes for, onions and aged vinegars aren’t allowed so that’s the reasoning behind the apple juice. 🙂

      I couldn’t believe when I learned CFA even puts it in their non-breaded chicken strips. Such a sad day! You really have to watch EVERYTHING. But eating this way has made me look at labels more carefully, which is good in general. I’m glad you figured it out for your son and hope we can one day eat all their chicken wings! I think I might have to do a knockoff recipe haha.


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chicken breasts in a pan with cream sauce and tomatoes in a small white dish

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